To be a biological parent requires a single act of sex, or even a test tube or petri dish.  A joining of sperm and egg does not a family make.  How you were created is less important than how you were nurtured.

Parents and mentors come in all sizes, ages, sexual orientation and skills.  Many children I have met are parenting their parents.  They have had to assume adult roles in order to give themselves and their siblings any sense of stability.

To be a member of a healthy and nurturing family requires an endless array of complex behaviors, forgiveness, sacrifices, and commitment. It requires that we be very careful of derogatory labels like ”thief” “lazy” “liar” for occasional mistakes.

Kids Need Role Models

Children are the world’s most precious resource. They are the reason that we keep going to work and coming home dead-tired and still find time to play catch. Parents and role models recognize that the children are watching how we live our lives.

The best security blanket for any child is the knowledge that the adults in the family respect him/her and each other.  The choice legacy a family can bestow is unconditional love and forgiveness.

Separate the deed from the doer.  For more guidance on parenting, please see my website for excellent articles, resources and aides.

Families teach us that we can survive the pain of divorce, mental illness, abuse, alcoholism, suicide, unemployment, violence and all the other stuff that happens in life. The functional and flourishing family is most productive when it has goals and values as a unit.

When your family is supportive and respectful of the rights and dreams of each other, it is a wonderful spring-board to life.

Not all families are this loving, respectful group of individuals.  Many are made up of selfish people who put their own needs and desires above the highest good for all.   However, in my work with families, I have found that some of the most emotionally resilient and happiest groups are those who have been made stronger by their trials and tragedies.

How Do Healthy Families Work

Healthy families are not perfect; they may have yelling, bickering, misunderstanding, tension, hurt, and anger – but not all the time.

Dysfunction can be any condition that doesn’t return to normal after a stressful circumstance.  In an emotionally unhealthy home, problems tend to be ongoing. Sometimes for generations the coping mechanism or lack thereof, has been taught and modeled.

In healthy families emotional expression is not just allowed and accepted but encouraged. Family members can freely ask for and give attention. There is unconditional love but boundaries for behavior. Rules remain consistent, but with some flexibility to adapt to needs and particular situations.

Healthy families allow for each member to pursue his or her own interests, and boundaries between individuals are honored. When healthy boundaries and expectations of behavior are established and common courtesy is in place, all members flourish.

Cooperation and communication are effective tools in producing harmony and personal growth for family members.

Self-Awareness Quiz

  1. Who was a role model in your family?  Who showed you love and forgiveness?
  2. If you are not a parent, can you still influence and encourage children? How?
  3. Do you remember a family that seemed emotionally healthy and happy? What did they teach you?


Thank you for being a part of this community of kind, thoughtful people who want respect for all. Be sure and claim your free eBook at You may reprint this article in your blog but please give credit to Judy Helm Wright, Artichoke


What Makes a Family?
Tagged on: